We investigated fluorescence quenching and enhancement near gold nanoparticles (GNP) of various sizes using fluorescently labeled hairpin DNA probes of different lengths. A closed hairpin caused intimate contact between the fluorophore and the gold, resulting in an efficient energy transfer (quenching). Upon hybridization with complementary DNA, the DNA probes were stretched yielding a strong increase in fluorescence signal. By carefully quantifying the amount of bound fluorescent probes and the GNP concentrations, we were able to determine the quenching and enhancement efficiencies. We also studied the size and distance dependence theoretically, using both FDTD simulations and the Gersten-Nitzan model and obtained a good agreement between experiments and theory. On the basis of experimental and theoretical studies, we report over 96.8% quenching efficiency for all particle sizes tested and a maximal signal increase of 1.23 after DNA hybridization. The described results also demonstrate the potential of gold nanoparticles for label free DNA sensing.